Our Tanzania Self-drive Safari

We decided to do a self-drive safari of Tanzania after I read all the reviews and blogs of other people’s self-drive experience. I figured that it wouldn’t be as difficult as many people have made it out to be, however, I was basing that on just the driving experience. If you haven’t already read my other post, Should I Do a Self-Drive Safari, you should read about the actual driving experience. What I didn’t take into account were the many other factors that come into play when dealing with a third-world country.

Vehicle Rental

imageWhenever we told any of the locals that we planned to drive ourselves to the Serengeti, we received surprised looks, followed by concern. A couple of people said we weren’t allowed to go into the national parks without a guide or driver. Don’t believe them. A couple of places where we inquired about renting a 4-wheel drive, quoted us a much higher price, up to 50% more, for self-driving than with a driver. Even many of the people commenting on TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet warn against driving yourself. These are all scare tactics meant to encourage using tour operators. You can rent a vehicle and you can enter the park without a guide. It will cost you quite a bit for the 4WD rental, especially with places that don’t specialize in it.

We went with Arusha Fortes, because they have been renting self-drive vehicles for over 30 years. They were very good at explaining a lot of the complexities of entering the national parks. Their vehicles were well equipped with two spare tires, a high-lift jack, and pop-up rooftop tent. For our convenience, they let us use their Ngorongoro Park card, for a $20 convenience fee, preloaded with enough to cover our costs. The vehicle was tough and we drove it like the locals. Everything on the vehicle survived the journey, but some things were a little worse for the wear. The parking brake cable seemed to stretch out, the brakes squeaked something awful for a while after sitting in the mud for 3+ hours. All the bumpy roads also took their toll. The high-lift jack lost a very essential pivot pin, making it almost unusable. And a metal door alignment stop simply sheered off. Continue reading

Minipresso Portable Espresso Machine

Travel forces you to shake things up and alter your routine in life. It’s a good way to challenge your thinking and makes each day something which you look forward to. However, some things are just part of your daily routine and necessary to keep some semblance of a normal life. For me, that something is coffee, which is not just part of my routine; it’s a necessity. Without it, I can’t fully function and my brain and body are still asleep. There are many ways to infuse my body with coffee while I’m on the road or camping or even at home. Instant is always there, but never really satisfies. I can always brew a cup in my drip filter, but that’s just so pedestrian. A French press pot is too bulky and fragile. It’s too bad I can’t bring an espresso machine with me. But wait, I can.

The Minipresso portable espresso machine makes some great espresso from a device about the size of a tall beer can, 7″ long and 2.25″ in diameter. It weighs about 12.8 oz. (362 g.) without the ground coffee and is so easy to use. The cup is included as part of the cover over the outlet end of the machine and just pops off. Unscrew the opposite end and you’ll find the water reservoir for the hot water, along with the measuring scoop for the ground coffee. Continue reading